Genre: Horror

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Posted by 20 Comments

I received this book for free from Disney Book Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria StolarzWelcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Published by Disney Hyperion on July 22nd 2014
Genres: Horror, YA
Source: Disney Book Group
Buy on Amazon

What’s your worst nightmare?

For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.

And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.

Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.

Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.

By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run

Welcome to the Dark House is a pretty great horror story, especially for horror-movie loving readers. However it reads just like a horror movie as well – you barely get to know the cast, and when one dies/disappears you’re not going to care all that much.

Ultimately told in multiple viewpoints, we’re first introduced to Ivy, who I consider to be the main character in this story. She’s the only character that we get to know with any amount of depth. We learn of her tragic past and how it haunts her, and her motivation to join Justin Blake’s latest project. Soon enough, we’re joining others inside this Dark House and meeting our other POVs – I never counted, but there must have been 5 or 6. Obviously they’re not so memorable, not helped, I’m sure, by how identical their voices were. It also didn’t help that my eARC was badly formatted and didn’t say which POV we had switched to – though I was told the finished copy would, so you might have a better experience with remembering who’s who than I.

That’s not to say I didn’t like any of the characters. They’re all fairly interesting with an array of personalities and dealing with problems of their own. We see themes from suicide to body image issues to PTSD; it makes for an intriguing cast of people. There’s a bit of romance that blooms between some of them to lighten up the overall darkness of the plot. Though some of it’s a bit silly: getting angry because the girl you met 2 seconds ago and flirted with is now on the couch with another guy. Ooookay! The intro to the characters and the whole Justin Blake premise takes about half of the book. Once the tone of the story is set and you’re made to feel uneasy about this ordeal that feels way suspicious, this is when the real horror begins.

The horror aspect was my favourite part of the book. It has great scare tactics and an awesome eerie vibe throughout. The suspense is well-paced, with just enough dread and anxiety to keep you on the edge of your seat. There are things you do have to ignore, however. The fact that there seems to be a ton of people running this thing makes it a bit unrealistic – one person could not possibly have been all those “dream” characters. And I find it hard to believe so many people would be involved in such a sick and twisted killing spree without being caught. Unless it was meant to be paranormal in nature. The whole Harris ordeal hinted at that too, though I read that as being her subconscious telling her this wasn’t right. You also have to forgive how oblivious they all are to what exactly is happening. Especially Ivy who admits things are definitely off, but still goes through her dream sequence. WHY!!

The ending is what disappointed me the most. We’re left with a slew of questions and not many answers. I didn’t expect to – or want – everything to be tied up with a bow, but we don’t even know what the heck happened to Taylor for instance. Why did she leave? Is she missing too? Why didn’t she get them help (she was on the phone so she obviously knew something).

If you’re looking for a quick scare that’s a whole lot of fun if you don’t think about it too hard, then I would recommend this one. It’s got great horror-movie qualities to it, but in my opinion, what works on screen doesn’t always work in a book without adding more substance and solidifying characters.


3 Hot Espressos

Review: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Review: The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

Posted by on 07/08/2014 • 21 Comments

*slow clap* I don’t even know where to begin reviewing this book. It was a book that I didn’t plan to read, I heard from my co-blogger it was a split POV story told in the third person and I thought “Rubbish! I don’t want that in my life.” Then a little birdie came along, one by the name of Christina of A Reader of Fictions and she said “Look, you need this book in your life. Total Jenni bait.” So I gave it a go and wow. I’m at a loss for words (which, if you know me, NEVER happens) because this book was just… everything.

We are introduced to the world through the eyes of a little girl named Melanie who spends her time in a cell and…

Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Review: The Merciless by Danielle Vega

Posted by on 06/12/2014 • 23 Comments


This was my reaction to much of this novel’s… happenings. It’s a horror through and through, and definitely not for the wussies or faint of hearts. After a quick introduction to our protagonist and the setting, we’re thrust into a house-of-torture kind of read where these girls have it in their head that one is a demon that must be exorcised.

“Most girls would just start a burn book.”

But not these girls! These girls opt for pulling hairs out of scalps and taking fingernails out. Yeah.. Excuse me while I go barf!

The book itself is more for the horror and shock value than substance. Character development is not especially strong, for instance. And I found myself frustrated by the number of times the protagonist “almost”…

Review: The Plague by Lisa C. Hinsley

Review: The Plague by Lisa C. Hinsley

Posted by on 11/11/2013 • 27 Comments

I guess I should have expected it, but Plague was a lot more… grossly detailed and harder to read than I expected – and not in a good way. I knew I was in for a heartbreaking read, but this is really nothing but a short story of a family’s harsh misfortunes during a plague epidemic. Which, I admit, sounds like it could be a good read, except it was simply too… graphic. Too quick of a disturbing tale and not enough depth to balance it. It’s an explicit story of a dying family. Period. We don’t ever get out of this boarded up house to see how the world is fairing other than just the knowledge that everyone is dying. The few technical details we do get are fuzzy…

Review: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

Review: The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman

Posted by on 08/20/2013 • 27 Comments

Whoa, this was psychotic! Definitely the most violent YA book I’ve yet to read! This is both a warning and a promise. 😉

Another of Robin’s book, The Book of Blood and Shadow was one of my favorites of last year. It was raw and intense, kind of insanely so, so I knew – and hoped – to expect the same kind of brilliance in this one and am happy to not have been let down. The Waking Dark does not lose any time to show you what you’re getting into. Within the first couple of chapters the sheer madness of what is happening grabs you with its two fists and shoves you inside this story in full force. What I first noticed in this book is how there is…